|THEY LISTEN TO MUSIC|
There is a clear frontrunner, and it is the most significant video/single so far of the year -
1. Childish Gambino - 'This Is America'
Impossible to forget the images of the dancing, prancing, weirdly killing figure in the video, which seems to represent the mercurial intemperate low-attention span of American culture - his "I'm so dollar" is deeply unsettling rhymed with "guns in my area". A classic.
2. Janelle Monae (with Brian Wilson) - 'Dirty Computer'
In any other year, this might have been first. It is hard to imagine a song more compelling than one featuring the genius behind Pet Sounds, inspired by Prince, and performed and co-written by a pansexual African-American genius, exploring female desire. Brief but unforgettable.
3. The Breeders - 'MetaGoth'
Anyone who loves late 80s, early 90s indie knows The Breeders - the Pixies offshoot sometimes better than Pixies - and their unexpected comeback is cause for great joy. This homage to early 80s indie is sublime.
4. Johnny Marr - 'Walk Into The Water'
Speaking of 80s indie guitar - no one represents that time better than Smiths co-conspirator Johnny Marr, whose playing style is second only (perhaps) to The Edge as summing up the decade; here he is is with a new album and single ambitious enough to try to recreate the high points of his youthful greatness. Haunting.
5. Kacey Musgrave - 'Slow Burn'
For a contemporary guitar twang song (that mentions '88 though) find this Texas/Tennessee country single, that is as light, sweet, sad and poetically erotic as any in living memory. Crystalline, refreshing, with the 70s production values of James Taylor. Just right.
6. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - 'You Worry Me'
Few songs with a country/rock basis feel so urgent, and anxious - here is the anthem for an opiated, broken, Trumpified America of struggling lives. Praying "for what the future may bring" indeed. Beautiful and frightening.
7. Zuzu - 'Beauty Queen'
Wonderfully English indie rock, with a great sense of humour and killer hook - "I've got no chance/ because I can't sing and I can't dance". As if The Smiths were fronted by a young woman. Really fresh.
8. Shame - 'Lampoon'
Speaking of English music, and indie, no recent release came with such buzz as this raucous post-punk single - energetic, frenetic, driven, and thrash-worthy. The future will be revitalised.
9. L7 - 'I Came Back To Bitch'
Few come backs are as rock and roll and angry as this attack on Trump - "everything is going to shit" - I love the "you're not a rock star/ but you're looking at one" - one of the best attitude-heavy ripostes to a dumb man songs ever penned or performed - and great it's by a girl band.
10. Camila Cabello - 'She Loves Control'
Is there a finer pop song so far this year, one that is more erotic, danceable, and memorable? No, this is gold standard modern pop - perfectly sung - a 'La Isla Bonita' for our age.
11. Hall & Oates, with Train - 'Philly Forget Me Not'
Hall & Oates are two of the best songwriters of the past 40 years - their hits came like bullet trains ever on time, for decades - but this is their first new single in about 15 years. And wow. They have weaponised their style and signature elements, to forge a song so catchy, you may well find yourself singing it endlessly for days. I kid you not.
12. Twin Shadow, feat. HAIM - 'Saturdays'
Homage to the second great decade for rock after the 60s, the 80s, and especially homage to Bruce Springsteen's 80s hits, are a dime a dozen these days - but these cats are incredibly adept at making the sound and vibe their own - a huge hookworm of a song that encapsulates every thing fun and uplifting about pure radio pop.